The Scottish Mail on Sunday
Jake’s feet will do the talking, not his spikes
JAKE WIGHTMAN reckons all the carbon-plated, supercharged running spikes in the world can’t buy you class. Which is why the 25-year-old Scot is still backing himself for a medal at the Tokyo Olympics this year — despite sporting footwear that’s more old school than high-tech.
With the World Indoor Championships in China postponed because of the coronavirus, next Saturday’s Muller Grand Prix in Glasgow is poised to be the highlight of the winter campaign.
It should also keep the spotlight on the controversy over Nike’s sprung shoes that have forced World Athletics to change the rules amid fears the record books will be rewritten.
But Wightman, who is backed by New Balance, is certain he won’t become collateral damage in the latest athletics shoe battle.
‘People were wearing a lot of those Nike products last year and I beat them,’ said the European bronze medallist.
‘But the next step would be everyone running in springs or with rockets in the shoes. So there needs to be some limits.
‘It’s just a shame it takes away from the charisma of athletics, the fact that you don’t actually need to have shoes to run.
‘Now it’s a bit like F1 where the technology is taking over. But it just means that probably every shoe brand is going to push that limit.’
Not sporting the ‘swoosh’ hasn’t stopped Edinburgh AC’s finest from picking up where he left off in coming fifth in the 1,500metres at last October’s World Championships in Doha.
Last month in Boston, he bagged his first British record with a red-hot charge over 1,000m.
But he will arrive at the Emirates Arena for a showdown with domestic rivals Josh Kerr and Guy Learmonth with one eye on a proper classic mark: beating Seb Coe’s UK indoor 800m record of 1:44.91, set at RAF Cosford a full 11 years before Wightman was born.
‘I know 1,000 isn’t run that often,’ he admitted. ‘So now I want to go for that 800m record in Glasgow.
‘But it’s mainly about where I’m finishing in races at the moment rather than running quick. Going into a year as big as the Olympics, you want to be as race sharp as you can.’
He’ll head back into training after next weekend rather than returning to Glasgow for the UK Indoor Championships. It’s all about Tokyo.
And, the Scot revealed he has opted to add a sports psychologist to his personal team in his quest to reach the very top. ‘I saw one when I was injured last year. It was about making sure I was in a good mental place. I said to my dad the psychologist told me I have a good attitude and that I’m solid mentally.
‘He went: ‘Yeah, what else would a sports psych say to someone who is absolutely ruined mentally? They’re not going to make you feel bad”.
‘But I hope it’s the difference between me standing on the start line of a race believing I could get a medal — and believing I will!’
It’s now a bit like F1 where the technology is taking over